For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
CASH GAME PLAYS
Matthew Stafford (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,200). About half of the Colts’ starting defense will either be out or limited on Sunday including All-Pro cornerback, Vontae Davis; without those key players, the Colts are going to have trouble generating a pass rush against Matthew Stafford, who completed 75% of his passes last year with a clean pocket. Some might be quick to point out that Stafford will be without Calvin Johnson, who retired in the off-season, but the Lions replaced him with Marvin Jones (below) and Anquan Boldin, two talented and sure-handed receivers who will complement Golden Tate nicely. Out of the backfield, Stafford will have Ameer Abdullah in early-down situations and Theo Riddick on passing downs; last season, those two combined for 105 receptions for 880 yards and four touchdowns, further augmenting the case for Stafford. If this game plays out according to the Vegas odds, the Lions and Colts will be exchanging offensive blows throughout, which should equate to excellent fantasy numbers for the quarterbacks running each offense.
Dak Prescott (Cash only, Salary: $5,000). The most difficult decision you will make this weekend is whether to trust or to fade Dak Prescott in your cash games. The 2016 fourth-round draft selection has been thrust into the starting role with the Dallas Cowboys after Tony Romo suffered a preseason injury that has left him on the sidelines for eight-to-ten weeks. Prescott is intriguing because he had a stellar preseason, where he completed 39 of 50 attempts for 454 yards and compiling seven total touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) without turning over the ball once. The question is whether Prescott's preseason success was the byproduct of simplistic defensive schemes he was facing as a QB2 or if what we observed was due to an NFL-ready skill set? Most NFL pundits are arguing that it is the former and that Prescott will struggle to recapitulate his early success against first-team, complex defenses. While that may be true, Prescott's low salary mandates that he returns only ~ 15 fantasy points against a Giants' secondary that ranked dead-last in passing yards allowed a season ago. That type of output (i.e., 200 passing yards, 1 TD, and 20+ rushing yards) would appear to be reasonable, even with the run-first approach most of us expect Jason Garrett to employ on Sunday afternoon. Given the low opportunity cost and his likely high ownership, you could do worse than rolling with Dak Prescott in your cash game rosters in Week #1.
Also eligible: Carson Wentz ($5,000)
Spencer Ware (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,400). With Jamaal Charles all but assured not to play on Sunday, Spencer Ware looked primed to take the lion’s share of carries in the Chiefs’ backfield until Friday afternoon when it was announced that Ware would split carries with Charcandrick West. That announcement from Andy Reid might be enough to send DFS players headed for the mountains with regards to Ware, but that would be folly against this Chargers’ defensive front seven that yielded 4.8 yards per carry last season (31st in NFL) and is ProFootballFocus’ 30th ranked defensive front entering this season. If West steals action from Ware, it will be between the twenties, meaning that the high-value redzone carries will be given to the powerful, ex-LSU bruiser (Ware). At $4.4K, Ware is still a value play if he gets less than the 18+ touches we suspected he might get earlier in the week, largely because of the strong matchup, the cheap salary, and the superior value of his touches compared to West.
Christine Michael (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,700). While Christine Michael is not the lead running back in the Seattle backfield entering this season, he will be on Sunday because Thomas Rawls has been nursing an ankle injury for most of the preseason. In fact, Rawls got his first piece of live action in Week #4 of the preseason, where he managed touched the ball twice for a total of 7 yards. Coach Pete Carroll has gone on record as saying that the Seahawks will treat their home opener this Sunday as a “second preseason game” for Rawls with the implication being that Rawls will see limited action. Knowing that the Seahawks are heavy favorites in this game, we might expect to see Rawls split early action with Michael (6-10 touches/each) and then give way to Michael as the game falls in favor of Seattle. For his part, Michael has had a very clean preseason with the team, carrying the ball 26 times for a total of 157 yards (6.0 yards per carry); the bigger news is that Seattle beat writers are claiming that Michael has matured immensely in the off-season, which was the biggest knock on him in his first few years in the league. With an excellent gamescript behind him (10.5-point favorites), Michael could collect 15+ touches on Sunday at a paltry $3.7K price tag. Saddle him up.
Julio Jones (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $9,400). Over the previous two years, Julio Jones has had 10+ targets in every game he has played against the Tampa Bay Bucs; averaged over those efforts, Jones has 9.3 receptions, 144 receiving yards, and 0.8 touchdowns per game (34.5 DraftKings points per game). It would be irresponsible to expect ~ 35 fantasy points again this weekend, but 25+ points is not out of the question. Jones should line up across from former Florida standout (and first-round pick), Vernon Hargreaves, who will likely not enjoy his trial by fire with Jones in Atlanta. Last season, the Bucs allowed the 5th most passing touchdowns in the league and they enter 2016 with ProFootballFocus’ 28th ranked secondary, an indication that they have not made marked improvements despite drafting Hargreaves with the 10th overall pick in April. With the value to be had elsewhere, DFS players are forced to decide where they will spend their excess salary at the wide receiver position. Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, and Julio Jones top that respective list, but Jones gets the nod because of his matchup and historical success against Tampa Bay.
Marvin Jones (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,600). After a disappointing 7-9 season in 2015, the Lions lost future Hall-of-Famer Calvin Johnson to retirement, but quickly replaced him with two very talented wide receivers in Anquan Boldin and Marvin Jones. Always the bridesmaid in Cincinnati behind A.J. Green, Jones displayed flashes of brilliance, but was never fully unloaded on opposing defenses. That may change this season when the Lions take the field and unleash their aerial attack on the NFC North. Opposing defense are going to have their hands full with this receiving corps that also features Golden Tate and Eric Ebron, a fact that might become very clear, very early this Sunday when the Colts’ decimated defense lines up across from these Lion receivers. Of those receivers, Jones is the most reasonably priced and has been a favorite target of Matthew Stafford leading into the season, which is why he gets an appearance here.
Tajae Sharpe (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,000). Mike Mularkey has gone on record stating that he will employ an “exotic smashmouth” offense this season, featuring the newly-acquired running back duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. There is little reason to doubt Mularkey, who has employed a run-first mentality. That said, Marcus Mariota is still going to throw the ball 30+ times every game and those pass attempts are generally going in one of two directions: Delanie Walker or Tajae Sharpe. A 2016 fifth-round pick, Sharpe has been impressive in camp, quickly usurping the WR1 role from Kendall Wright and leading to Dorial Green-Beckham’s departure for Philadelphia. Sharpe is quick, runs crisp routes, and has good hands, all of which should lead to solid numbers in Nashville on Sunday. At DraftKings’ site minimum salary, he looks like a virtual lock to achieve 3x value needed to justify his presence in your cash game rosters.
Martellus Bennett (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,400). On Friday afternoon, we learned that Rob Gronkowski did not make the trip to Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Sunday night. If that holds true and he does not sneak out to Phoenix on Saturday, Martellus Bennett gets a huge bump and is eligible for cash games on DraftKings. The logic is simple: Patrick Peterson will shut down whoever he covers and ditto for Tyrann Mathieu, which leaves Jimmy Garappolo to move the ball between the hashes to a receiver not covered by Mathieu. That person should be Martellus Bennett. Assuming Gronkowski does not play and that the Vegas gamescript plays out accurately, Bennett could finish the day with 6+ receptions and 60 yards receiving at a very fair $3.4K salary.
Dwayne Allen (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,200). The Colts open their season at home against the Lions in a game that Vegas oddsmakers have pegged as being a high-scoring event. No team has a higher implied team total than the Colts (27.25 points), which means that there should be plenty of fantasy scoring to be distributed amongst their skill players. It is difficult to envision Frank Gore finishing this, or any, game with 120+ yards and multiple touchdowns, which suggests that the majority of the Colts’ offensive output will come through the air via Andrew Luck and his receiving corps. We will see the return of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Phillip Dorsett, all of whom can put up big numbers; however, Hilton will be covered by an excellent defensive back in Darius Slay, which could limit his fantasy production and lead to overflow targets to Luck’s other receiving options, including Dwayne Allen. At 6’3”, Allen is the biggest redzone threat the Colts will field on Sunday, which adds to the allure of rostering him at only $3.2K. If he scores a touchdown, he basically reaches cash game value in a single play; if he does not score, a 5-catch, 40-yard performance will still get you there..
Also eligible: Travis Kelce ($5,000)
Seahawks (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,900). The Seahawks open their 2016 campaign with a home game against an Adam Gase-led Miami offense that looks to improve off a season where they ranked 27th in the NFL in points scored, averaging only 19.4 points per game. Gase has turned around offenses in Denver and Chicago prior to coming to Miami in the off-season, but this particular matchup does not play in his favor. The Seahawks have been downright stingy at home over the past three years, allowing only 16.6 points per game to visiting teams. They are 10+ point favorites in this matchup, which should largely eliminate the Dolphins’ running attack and force them to air it out against perennial All-Pro cornerback, Richard Sherman, safety Kam Chancellor, and company. Unfortunately for Miami, it appears that they are likely without their WR1, DeVante Parker, leaving Kenny Stills to deal with Sherman. Opposite Stills would be some mixture of Leonte Caroo and/or Justin Hunter, leaving only Jarvis Landry to move the sticks. While Landry should probably be successful and accumulate receptions, his redzone presence is negligible, leaving the Dolphins without many threats to score touchdowns. At $3,900, Seattle is pricey, but they are one of the safest options on the board for cash games.
Cardinals (Salary: $3500). As a general rule, rostering heavy home favorite team defenses is a long-term winning strategy. That is why you see the Seahawks, Chiefs, Cardinals, and Texans in this article. On paper, the Cardinals should field one of the best defenses in the league in 2016, largely due to their extraordinary defensive backfield that features Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Last season, opponents averaged only 230.4 passing yards per game (8th best in NFL), while the Cardinals piled up 19 interceptions (4th best in NFL). With this talented defensive backfield primed for Sunday’s game against the Patriots, it is difficult to envision how Bill Belichick will scheme to move the ball without Tom Brady. Instead, Jimmy Garappolo will take the helm and try to lead an offense that is likely without Rob Gronkowski, who is battling a tweaked hamstring. That leaves the burden on LeGarrette Blount and/or James White to run the ball against the Cardinals’ front seven, which may not be possible if the Cardinals jump out to an early lead, as Vegas oddsmakers suspect might happen. Overall, the implied gamescript sets up well for the Cards to make some big plays against a quarterback with minimal experience and a propensity to make mistakes.
Kirk Cousins (Salary: $7400). Strictly a game strategy move, Kirk Cousins could be a sneaky GPP play this weekend against a Steelers secondary that was often torched last season. In 2015, the Steelers allowed 271.9 yards per game to opposing passers (30th in NFL) and, outside of cutting CB Antwon Blake, they have done little in the off-season to improve the talent of their defensive backfield. William Gay and Ross Cockrell will return, neither of whom is a shutdown cornerback. Bolstering a case for Cousins is the fact that running back Matt Jones has been hobbled with an AC shoulder sprain for most of the preseason, which could limit his action on Sunday; behind Jones is Chris Thompson, a diminutive backup RB who cannot withstand an abundance of carries. That should leave many of the offensive duties to Cousins, who finished last season with a flurry of plus games, including 12 touchdowns over his final three games. Providing the Steelers can move the ball effectively against the Redskins defensive unit, this could be an offensive shootout and Cousins could be overlooked due to his $7,400 salary that puts him above more popular options like Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr, and Blake Bortles.
Derek Carr (Salary: $7,300). Derek Carr gets a spot in the GPP category of “Tips and Picks” because he is playing against Drew Brees in New Orleans. Over the course of his career, Brees has logged an incredible 94 300-yard games and there is no question that the majority of those games were in the Superdome in New Orleans. Just last year, Brees threw for 300 yards in six of his eight home games; in those instances, opposing quarterbacks averaged 315 passing yards and 3.3 touchdowns per game (a list of QBs that includes Brandon Weeden and Marcus Mariota). In the off-season, the Saints performed a little “addition via subtraction” by getting rid of cornerback Brandon Browner, who was downright terrible in coverage, but they still have holes to fill outside of Delvin Breaux. Meanwhile, Derek Carr was impressive in his sophomore season, improving in most statistical categories including completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdowns. As of Friday, there is no total on the board in Las Vegas with a higher number than this game, which could mean a ton of fireworks on Sunday; assuming that comes to fruition, you will want the player leading that offense.
Jameis Winston (Salary: $6,300). In his rookie season, Jameis Winston put together some impressive performances that led to him finishing the season as QB13 in season-long circles. At times, he struggled with accuracy, but his performance was also affected by the general health of his receivers (Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson), both of whom missed multiple games due to injuries. Likewise, Austin Seferian-Jenkins never lived up to his full potential, which also limited Winston’s receiving options. Despite those setbacks, Winston finished 2015 with a respectable 58.3% completion percentage, 4,000+ yards passing, 22 passing touchdowns, and another 6 touchdowns on the ground. This weekend, he will take on a Falcons secondary that is ProFootballFocus’ 26th ranked unit entering the season; they are anchored by Desmond Trufant, a true shutdown cornerback, but are largely absent of talent in their secondary beyond him. Look for new Head Coach Dirk Koetter to scheme to keep action away from Trufant and towards those lesser talented defensive backs while the Bucs try to keep pace with a Falcons offense that could run away with this game early.
Todd Gurley (Salary: $7800). In his last season as the Eagles’ Head Coach, Chip Kelly averaged 68.9 offensive plays per game (2nd in NFL behind only Houston). Dead last in that same category? The plodding Los Angeles (then St. Louis) Rams at only 57.5 plays per game. The interesting (and applicable) component of this type of analysis is that when a team runs a quick offense, like Chip Kelly’s Eagles, their opponents are forced to do the same. Case in point—Eagles’ opponents ran a whopping 71. 8 offensive plays per game last season while they tried to keep pace with Kelly’s offense. Now that Kelly is running the 49ers’ offense, we can expect similar numbers with San Francisco in 2016. In turn, that means that we might expect the aforementioned slug of a Rams’ offense to run approximately 20-25% more plays this weekend than they did on an average weekend last season. Since the Rams’ entire offense is built around Todd Gurley, those extra plays should swing some extra fantasy production in his direction. In the ten games where Gurley got a full allotment of snaps last year, he averaged 20.5 carries plus another 1.9 receptions. Bringing this logic full circle, Gurley could be in store for a slew of opportunity on Sunday and his ownership levels are going to be lower than they should be because of the low Vegas total and his hefty price tag. He brings the upside and contrarian nature we need to pull down those big GPPs on DraftKings.
Adrian Peterson (Salary: $7600). There were high hopes in Minnesota this season with Teddy Bridgewater coming into his own, a series of talented young receivers including Laquon Treadwell, and the ageless Adrian Peterson. When Bridgewater went down with a nasty knee injury a few weeks ago, the football community largely dismissed those lofty aspirations because Shaun Hill would now be leading the charge. While the Vikings may not be as likely to make the playoffs as they were a few weeks ago, let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Adrian Peterson is still a fantasy god, capable of putting up 30+ points in any game against any opponent. At the age of 30 last season, he finished as the RB2 in season-long circles, compiling 100+ yard games on seven different occasions. This weekend, Peterson’s ownership levels will probably be quite low in light of the negativity cast upon this Bridgewater-less offense, but Peterson is the type of transcendent talent that can carry an offense on his back when necessary. Against a mediocre front seven in Tennessee, it would not be surprising to see Peterson finish the afternoon with another 100-yard, 2-touchdown performance to add to his resume.
LeSean McCoy (Salary: $6,400). Many fantasy football enthusiasts are ageists and seemingly write off a player, particularly running backs, when they reach a certain age. It feels like LeSean McCoy has been in the league forever (why is that?), but the truth is that McCoy is fresh off his 28th birthday, which means that he still has more gas in the tank than many of us might believe. As he enters his eighth year in the league, McCoy is the lone man standing in the Buffalo backfield because Karlos Williams was cut in the preseason and Mike Gillislee, who missed a lot of time in camp due to a concussion suffered in mid-August. With only Reggie Bush to steal time from McCoy, we can reasonably expect to see him touch the ball 20-25 times this weekend against the Ravens. Any time a running back is on the field for that amount of time, it is not beyond the realm of possibility for that player to pick up a pair of touchdowns; if that scenario presents itself, McCoy will be on a lot of winning tournament rosters because of his likely low ownership levels.
Ryan Mathews (Salary: $5700). As is the case with LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews should see a ton of action this weekend against the Browns. New Head Coach Doug Pederson has a reputation for implementing a run-first mentality and that will be an easy sell this weekend when the Eagles throw their 1st round draft pick, Carson Wentz, to the wolves after playing 38 total snaps in the preseason. Expect Wentz to play the role of game manager in this matchup with the sole intention of escaping with a win against a porous Browns defensive unit. Last season, the Browns allowed 128.4 rushing yards per game (3rd worst in NFL) and 4.5 yards per carry (4th worst in NFL); it appears that the Browns have done little to help that hurting unit, as ProFootballFocus ranks their defensive front seven as the worst in the NFL entering 2016. All of this bodes well for Mathews, who has been written off by a large contingent of hardcore fantasy enthusiasts due to his propensity to get injured, but he could legitimately see 20+ touches in this fantastic matchup which equates to immense upside.
Randall Cobb (Salary: $7600). Fellow Footballguy and DFS enthusiast, Justin Howe, presented some sound reasoning for why we might consider Randall Cobb as a high-upside DFS option this weekend in his article, “DFS Short Yardage Outlooks.” A brief summary: Cobb has displayed better numbers inside the 10-yard line than his talented counterpart, Jordy Nelson. Entering this weekend’s potential shootout against Jacksonville, the Packers are projected to score nearly four touchdowns, yet there is talk that Jordy Nelson could be on some sort of snap count. If that rumor proves to be true, there is immense value in rostering Cobb, who could be lesser-owned at a similar price point. Furthermore, the Jags have a solid front seven, headlined by Paul Posluszny, that held opponents to a mere 3.7 yards per carry last year (5th in NFL), which means that Aaron Rodgers might be forced to move the ball through the air to get into the endzone.
DeSean Jackson (Salary: $6100). A prototypical, big-play receiver, DeSean Jackson has won more than a few folks a GPP in his career. Jackson is one of the fastest receivers in the league and will stretch the field when the Redskins host the potent Steelers offense on Sunday. Jackson is coming off the worst season of his career, where he caught only 30 passes for 528 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he dealt with injuries for most of the season and enters this weekend 100% healthy for the first time since 2014. The matchup against the Steelers secondary is attractive, as the Steelers yielded the third most yards through the air last year and will largely roster the same personnel in their secondary this season. With impending star Jordan Reed and possession receivers Pierre Garcon/Jamison Crowder garnering a lot of attention underneath, Jackson would need only one mental mistake by the Steelers’ defensive backs to pick up a quick 10+ fantasy points. At $6.1K, he will probably be overlooked by many, but this game could potentially result in a back-and-forth between offenses, which favors a big player receiver like DJax.
Donte Moncrief (Salary: $6000). Assuming Andrew Luck is cleared to play on Sunday, do not overlook Donte Moncrief as a potential strong play against the Lions. T.Y. Hilton is the WR1 in Indianapolis again this season, but Hilton will be covered by a strong coverage cornerback in Darius Slay, who ranked amongst the best in the NFL last season (ProFootballFocus). Meanwhile, Moncrief showed continued improvement in his sophomore season in the league in 2015, nearly doubling his statistical output in receptions, yardage, and receiving touchdowns. The Colts think highly of the third-year receiver and should look to him even more this season, a trend that could start in Sunday’s matchup against the Lions, where the Colts are projected to score as many points as any team on the Week #1 slate (27.25). Moncrief will primarily see coverage from cornerback Nevin Lawson, who was beaten often last season and who is five full inches shorter than Moncrief, a fact that could play into Moncrief’s hands, literally, inside the redzone.
Kamar Aiken (Salary: $4,700). The Baltimore Ravens are projected to score 24 points on Sunday against the Bills at home, yet it is not clear from where those points will come? Steve Smith, born in the 70’s, is the Ravens’ WR1 and coming off a torn Achilles, an injury that should prove to be particularly difficult for a man rapidly approaching 40 years of age. Mike Wallace will give it a go as the WR3, but he has not displayed much talent in years, so it is also unlikely that he will suddenly shine this season. At tight end, there are a lot of question marks about whom will fill the receiving role between Dennis Pitta, Crockett Gillmore, and Maxx Wiliams, none of whom have soundly won the position from the others. That leaves Kamar Aiken, who led the Ravens in receiving last year (944 yards) and will line up out of the slot against the Bills’ Nickell Robey, who ranked amongst the bottom of the league in slot coverage cornerbacks in 2015. At 6’2”, Aiken stands five inches taller than Robey, which could also play to his advantage in this matchup. Aiken will go largely unnoticed in GPPs, but his $4.7K salary is attractive given the upside he brings to the table with this plus matchup.
Will Fuller (Salary: $3700). Freakishly fast with questionable hands, Will Fuller is the next generation of Ted Ginn. A first-round pick out of Notre Dame, Fuller had an incredible preseason, finishing with 144 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on 8 receptions. He demonstrated an ability to beat defenders and consistently get behind the defense, a skill that many speedsters bring to the table. Brock Osweiler has displayed sound chemistry with Fuller in camp, consistently hitting him on the deep routes Fuller typically runs. Against ProFootballFocus’ 31st ranked secondary, the Chicago Bears, it would not be surprising to see Fuller get behind that defense and reach GPP value in a single play.
Jesse James (Salary: $3400). A second-year tight end out of Penn State, Jesse James entered this season in the shadow of the Steelers’ newly-acquired Ladarius Green. Green, however, continues to endure concussion issues and may not see the field again, which has opened the door for James to lock up the tight end position for the Steelers. James is a house of a man at 6’7” and 260+ pounds, which will make him a stellar target for Ben Roethlisberger inside the 20-yard line. This is particularly noteworthy because Roethlisberger’s previous redzone threat, Martavis Bryant, will be watching games from home this year due to a substance abuse suspension. Sure, Antonio Brown is going to get a ton of looks from Big Ben, but James should get his share as well because Roethlisberger has traditionally thrown quite often to his previous tight end, Heath Miller (86 targets per season over his final five years). If we consider that many of James’ targets will be of the high-value (redzone) variety, he definitely deserves consideration in GPP formats.
Clive Walford (Salary: $3000). Last season, no defense allowed more fantasy points per game to the tight end position than the New Orleans Saints (12.2 per game). Outside of cutting Brandon Browner, who did not cover tight ends, the Saints have not done a great deal to shore up their weaknesses in covering the position. Enter Clive Walford, who displayed a quick learning curve in his rookie season with the Raiders last year; as the season came to a close, Walford was playing ~ 40 snaps per game and picking up anywhere from 4 to 7 targets from Derek Carr in the process. With another year to catch up to speed and work on creating chemistry with Carr, Walford appears to be primed for a big sophomore season. His season opener could not come against a weaker opponent and his 6’4” frame will serve as a big target when the Raiders get to the redzone, where oddsmakers think they will be quite often on Sunday.
Rams (Salary: $3,800). After wearing out his welcome in Philadelphia, Chip Kelly arrived in San Francisco in the off-season and quickly went to work with a young, unproven 49ers offense. With Blaine Gabbert at the helm, most Niners’ fans would be ecstatic to finish the season with an 8-8 record in the tough NFC West. In his tenure in the NFL, Gabbert has tossed 33 touchdowns against 31 interceptions and his lifetime completion percentage is a pedestrian 55.8%. Certainly, Kelly is going to try to cater to Gabbert’s (many) weaknesses, but there is only so much that can be done with substandard talent. The Rams are three-point favorites in San Francisco with Case Keenum leading the charge; the 49ers are projected to score 20 points in this matchup and it would not be surprising to see the Rams force several mistakes from Gabbert, who has made a career of doing so.
Chiefs (Salary: $3,600). Outside of Seattle, most football fans would agree there are not too many venues more unfriendly to visiting teams than Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Chiefs’ fans are known for creating a hostile environment that negatively affects conditions for opposing quarterbacks and their offenses. That will assuredly be the case this Sunday, as the Chiefs open their season at home against the San Diego Chargers. The Chiefs return an elite defensive unit that ranked third in the NFL last year, allowing only 17.9 points per game; they will feature a defense that is largely the same, but healthy and fired up to start the season. This all casts shadows on the Philip Rivers’ and the Chargers prospects, as they have not won a game in Kansas City since 2013. With the likely gamescript setting up to favor the Chargers calling a slew of hurried pass plays in the second half amongst the 100+ decibel noise from the stands, it would not be surprising to see Rivers make a miscue that leads to a defensive score.
Texans (Salary: $3,200). In 2014, the Bears offense was a mess. They were 23rd in the league in points scored (19.9 points per game), 21st in yards per game (327.1), and 30th in interceptions (19). After that fiasco, the Bears’ front office convinced Adam Gase to leave Denver and coordinate their offense for 2015. In one short year, the Bears went from being a disaster to respectable, finishing in the top half of most offensive team categories. However, Gase’s continued success in creating productive offenses led to a head coaching opportunity with the Dolphins this past off-season, which has relegated the Bears to “pre-Gase” status. This preseason, Jay Cutler stumbled often, finishing with 17 completions from 31 attempts, 146 yards, no touchdowns, and was sacked five times; the first-team offense scored 10 points all preseason. This weekend, that same unit will travel to Houston to take on J.J. Watt and company, where it could get ugly quickly. The Texans defense is a borderline cash play and a top-end GPP play because of what they could do to this Bears’ offense if Cutler continues to struggle.